On Monday, May 6th, the Center for Social Solutions will be joined by a group of influential leaders and thinkers in the religious diversity space at the WQED Multimedia Studio. In a panel discussion that will be recorded and later broadcasted on the WQED channel, Our Compelling Interests editors Earl Lewis and Nancy Cantor have brought together Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robert P. Jones, and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life Synagogue. The program will be moderated by journalist Lisa Washington of WQED PBS and KDKA-TV CBS.  

Also on the panel will be Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core and author of the most recent addition to the Our Compelling Interests series—Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. The event will focus on religious diversity and inclusion, as Patel’s recent contribution explores the significance of spiritual pluralism in a prosperous society and addresses the question of how we understand ourselves in a post Judeo-Christian reality.

“Our gathering is an effort to introduce research that expands thinking about how religion can help advance the cause of a healthy and diverse society,” explains Alford Young Jr., Associate Director of the Center for Social Solutions.

Doreen Tinajero, Project Senior Manager at the Center for Social Solutions, acknowledges that Out of Many Faiths “examines broader questions of diversity in the U.S., noting the importance of religious diversity in our culture and politics. Patel posits that by empowering those of different beliefs, ethnicities and religions will we as a nation fulfill the American promise.”

This discussion is occurring in the wake of recent attacks on places of worship in Pittsburgh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and California. Though the conversation will be focused on the overarching theme of religious pluralism, as opposed to specific events, these devastating acts of terror remind us why this topic is so important to not only discuss among leading experts, but in the public sphere as well.

Center for Social Solutions founder and director Earl Lewis also weighs in on the significance of this conversation. “The panel discussion raises the critically important question of religious pluralism. Out of Many Faiths reminds us that it is not enough for intragroup bonding, if that bonding comes at the expense of intergroup dialogue and bridging.”

“As I think about the event in Pittsburgh, it strikes me that our work there aspires to build a bridge that connects scholarship to communities,” Young recognizes. “This is a moment not simply to introduce a new publication to an audience, but to introduce ideas into public conversation at time when that public is striving to heal and better understand what can be done to grow in ways that value and promote social difference.”